Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Most People Think They are Financially Average

Well not quite. But people think they are more average financially than they are, on average.

But the strange thing is that most people think they are more intelligent than average. Was just chatting with someone on Twitter who stated that the norm in Australia is to get paid weekly and most people don't own a house. In fact, 67% of homes are owner occupied and getting paid every two weeks is most common. On the other end of the spectrum, my wife thinks our financial situation is "normal", when according to the statistics we are in the top few percent.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Effect of Updates on Reported Returns

The final numbers are now in for the first half of this year with the report of a venture capital fund for June. I was curious how different the final monthly returns were to the ones I reported after each month on the blog:

There is a big change for the final month, mostly because of the strong return of the venture capital fund.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Top Baggers

Meb Faber refers to the total gain on an investment over time in terms of "baggers". If you invested $1,000 and made $9,000 then that is a 10-bagger.

I was wondering what my best investment measured this way was. I previously calculated this using internal rate of return. But it is easier to get a high IRR on an investment held for a short time than one held for the long term. Which of my investments gained the most over time?

If you invest $1,000 and now have $1,000 of profit it is easy to see that this is a 2-bagger. This is the way venture capital firms typical report the value relative to what they put in. But what if you added more to the investment over time? What if you sold out for a while and then bought back? Or traded in other ways?

I realized we could get an approximation in these cases using the following pseudo-formula in Excel:

Bags = (1+IRR)^(COUNT(X:Y)/12)

IRR is the internal rate of return I already have. The count formula counts how many cells have an entry in them. I created a column with the following formula in it:


where Z are cells with the number of shares held each month. It returns a blank if the number is zero. We then apply the previous formula to this column (i.e. the range X:Y). 

I've now applied this to all my currently held investments. The median investment is 1.42 (gold). The worst is 0.80 (PSTH) and the best is CFS Developing Companies at 9.69. I think my best ever investment is Colonial/Commonwealth Bank which scores 13.01. I bought Colonial shares at the demutualization. I haven't computed this for all past investments yet. Gold is also my current median investment by IRR (12.4%).

So here are the top ten current investments using "bags", IRR, and total AUD gain :

There is some overlap between the columns. Regal Funds and Pershing Square show up in all three. The IRR column though highlights several recent investments that have done well like WCM Global Long-Short (WLS.AX) and WAM Strategic Value (WAR.AX). The top two in the last column are our two superannuation funds that also appear in the bags column and have a lot invested in them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Local Housing Market is Red Hot

This morning I got a text from a real estate agent offering to send me an updated appraisal of our house's value because "prices are spiking". Then, on the way home from work I noticed a sale board in the neighboring development advertising an upcoming auction. In the corner, a small sticker had been stuck: "sold". When I tried to search for this house online, I found another one in the same development that sold last weekend pre-auction.

P.S. 14 August 2021

The price the second house sold for has now been posted. AUD 900k. That is a 100% increase on the original price, a new neighborhood record. It pushes the estimated value of our house to just over AUD 1 million.

P.P.S. 31 August 2021

Domain are now reporting that the first house (pictured) sold for AUD 976k or 124% above the original price! That would add another 6% to the estimated value of our house.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

New I Will Teach You to be Rich Podcast

Ramit Sethi has started a podcast titled of course: "I Will Teach You to be Rich" and subtitled: "Real money stories from behind closed doors".  It's like a couples therapy session with Ramit as counsellor. It's great, but often the numbers don't seem to add up. For example, this couple makes USD 250k between them. Let's take off 1/3 for taxes etc. They say they spend just over 10% on housing and save 20%. They have "very low expenses". The guy scrimps and saves on everything. But, apart from what I listed, they would have to have another USD 90k in expenses. That's near what our family of four spends on everything including housing and private school and daycare. So, what is really going on here? Does the woman spend a lot of that on her own outside the household budget stuff? So this doesn't sound like "very low expenses" to me.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

July 2021 Report

It was another month of increases in world stock markets. The MSCI World Index rose 0.72%, the S&P 500 by 2.38%, and the ASX 200 rose 1.11%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7500 to USD 0.7350. We gained 2.96% in Australian Dollar terms or  0.90% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 2.31% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to lose 0.33% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed all benchmarks. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns):

Gold contributed the most to performance followed by real assets, Australian large cap, and private equity.

Things that worked well this month:

  • Gold gained AUD 32k followed by WAM Alternative Assets (15k), US Masters Residential Property Fund (URF.AX, 14k). The latter gained 23% for the month.
What really didn't work:
  • The worst performers, not surprisingly, were the two Pershing Square Funds: PSH.L (-AUD 12k) and PSTH (- 10k). The SEC stopped Bill Ackman's planned purchase of shares in Universal Music. Now the hedge fund, PSH.L, will have to buy more than planned and the SPAC, PSTH, will have to look for another deal. Third worst was, also not surprisingly, the China Fund (CHN, -7k).

The investment performance statistics for the last five years are: 

The first two rows are our unadjusted performance numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are doing about the same as the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

We maintained roughly the same distance from our desired long-run asset allocation. Hedge funds is the asset class that is now furthest from its target allocation (4.7% of total assets too little). Our actual allocation now looks like this:

Roughly two thirds of our portfolio is in what some consider to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month, which was a relatively quiet month:

  • I bought 10,000 shares of Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX) around its announcement of a good gain in NAV.
  • I bought 1,000 shares of Scorpio Tankers baby bonds (SBBA).
  • I closed a losing soybeans trade.
  • I bought shares in another painting.
  • I transferred my shares in the Macquarie Winton Global Alpha Fund to our SMSF.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Coinvestment, Revised Target Allocation, and Rights Issue

I'm making an investment in a pre-IPO company alongside a venture capital fund and other investors. I valued the company based on their forward projections for EBITDA and the multiples similar companies listed on the stock exchange have. Of course, the company could fail and so it is sensible to take a middle valuation between the extremes of zero value and the value if the company succeeds as planned. This still gave a good gain on the current valuation. In reality, total loss is unlikely as the company is already approaching profitability. The funding is for expansion. The worst outcome is more likely a sale for the current valuation or something less to a competitor. I am planning to invest about 2% of our portfolio in this company.

This means I will have to raise my target allocation to private equity and reduce my allocations to hedge funds and long-only equities. To also take into account my future commitment to a venture capital fund I am increasing the private equity allocation of gross assets from 10% to 15%. I am reducing the hedge fund allocation from 24% to 22%, Australian large cap from 9% to 8%, US stocks from 6% to 5%, and rest of the world stocks also from 6% to 5%. I would be happy to have an even higher allocation to private equity if I had access to enough diverse good quality opportunities. So, changing the target allocation isn't just like the US government raising its debt ceiling every time they hit it :)

By contrast, I am an investor in listed company Domacom (DCL.AX), which has been suspended from the ASX for a while, pending completion of a deal to effectively acquire a company called AustAgri. The ASX instructed them to raise more capital before relisting. I don't intend to participate in the rights issue, especially as the issue price is slightly above the last traded price of the shares on the ASX. Success of the company in the short-run really depends on this AustAgri transaction and it is still hard to be certain why it is so delayed and what will happen. Even after that transaction, the company will not be in anywhere near as good a position as this pre-IPO company.